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Q: Internet Music Sales ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   21 Comments )
Question  
Subject: Internet Music Sales
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: dasein-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 12 Jun 2003 04:05 PDT
Expires: 12 Jul 2003 04:05 PDT
Question ID: 216392
Who was the first recording artist to sell an entire album over the internet?

Clarification of Question by dasein-ga on 12 Jun 2003 06:33 PDT
Of course, I mean sell an entire album digitally.

Clarification of Question by dasein-ga on 13 Jun 2003 02:32 PDT
poe:

Thanks for the question.

No, I'm not looking for a do-it-yourself artist who perhaps sold an
album over his/her home page, but an artist who sold his/her album
through a normal retail channel or label.  The artist/album I am
looking for pre-dates
all the so-called file sharing "services."  My guess is that it was
sold in 1998.
Answer  
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
Answered By: poe-ga on 01 Jul 2003 11:39 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Dasein,

Thank you for your question. It has been a joy and an eye opener to
research.

The first album that I can confirm was made available as a digital
download on a commercial basis was Frank Black's 'Frank Black and the
Catholics', released online on 26th August, 1998.

GoodNoise Press Releases (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine) 
http://web.archive.org/web/19990209010943/www.goodnoise.com/about/pr/pr10.html

It was the first album distributed through GoodNoise (now EMusic), and
this has been confirmed to me via e-mail by the general manager. It is
still available at EMusic now at the following url:

EMusic - Frank Black's 'Frank Black and the Catholics'
http://www.emusic.com/cd/10588/10588169.html

Other albums were definitely available online before this, but
research so far has indicated that they were either non-commercial
downloads or streams.

The only possibility that may predate Frank Black is 'Dig Your Own
Hole' by The Chemical Brothers, which was made available by Liquid
Audio on 7th April, 1997. However, I am unable to confirm that this
was done on a commercial basis, as Liquid Audio have not replied to my
mails. My personal guess is that it was available as a free download
for the one single day before the official CD release and thus was
more of a publicity stunt than a groundbreaking precursor to the
future of music distribution.

Liquid Audio - Press Releases
http://www.liquidaudio.com/company/press/1997/archive/chempr.asp

The first major label album available as a purchased download was
David Bowie's 'hours...', available for download from 21st September,
1999. This predated the official CD release by two weeks and
availability was high, as it was sold from over fifty online stores as
well as Bowie's own official site.
 
Rolling Stone 
http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=9009

The first album to be offered for commercial download only without any
other physical media equivalent was 'Long Tall Weekend' by They Might
Be Giants, which was another EMusic release, this time in 1999.

Thank you again for your question and I look forward to answering
future questions from you at Google Answers.

Poe
dasein-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $25.00
Great job...  pleasant and proofessional... conscientious...
thorough...  definitely worth my time and money...

Comments  
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 12 Jun 2003 07:49 PDT
 
Hi, Dasein.

Just to clarify, are you looking for a forward-thinking artist who
sold his/her/their own album digitally like Ice T as described in the
Zeropaid link below; or just the first album to be sold by anyone,
even if it was by a company?

Ice T - Zeropaid.com
http://www.zeropaid.com/news/articles/auto/04102003c.php

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 13 Jun 2003 04:38 PDT
 
Thank you for your question, dasein. This has been a fascinating
subject to research.

I'm still tracking down the first album released for download for you
but the following may well be of interest.

For now I'm guessing that 1998 is accurate and that possibly the first
album was made available through emusic.com in July of that year. They
certainly claim to be the first to release an album online in mp3
format. This will have been a release from an independent label.

EMusic
http://emusic.com/about/facts.html

The first major label album available as a purchased download was
David Bowie's 'hours...', available for download from 21st September,
1999. This predated the official CD release by two weeks and
availability was high, as it was sold from over fifty online stores as
well as Bowie's own official site.

Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=9009

A couple of months earlier saw the first single offered as a
downloadable track for purchase by a major label. 'Bliss' by Tori Amos
was made available for download by Atlantic Records through multiple
online retailers from 13th August, 1999.

A Dent in the Tori Amos Universe
http://www.thedent.com/blisspress.html

More to come...

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 13 Jun 2003 11:25 PDT
 
poe - I think you're close, Emusic probably was the first to
commercially offer downloads of full albums.  It would be nice if this
could somehow be confirmed.  And if it could, then my guess is that
the first commercially downloaded album was the eponymously titled
album by Frank Black & The Catholics, Emusic's first national act.
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 20 Jun 2003 13:03 PDT
 
Hi Dasein,

Sorry for the delay in continuing with this. I've been unfortunately
without an internet connection for the last week.

I mailed EMusic to find out their first album offering, but their
service desk advises that they do not have such information. This does
seem rather surprising to me but it was from the horse's mouth, so to
speak.

Their press releases only date back to 2001 and are thus of no help,
but I'm still waiting for a reply from the EMusic PR people.

I've certainly seen Frank Black's name pop up with regards to
pioneering online music and you may well be right, but, without
confirmation yet, I'm leaning towards They Might Be Giants.

TMBG have had a long relationship with EMusic that included exclusive
releases as well as regular albums. Certainly they were the first to
offer an album for commercial download only (no accompanying CD etc),
which was 'Long Tall Weekend' in 1999.

I'm still waiting for a reply from EMusic's PR department and I've
also posted a question on the EMusic messageboard.

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 21 Jun 2003 05:33 PDT
 
poe:  Certainly TMBG have had a long relationship with Emusic, but
Frank Black's relationship with Emusic pre-dates TMBG's relationship
by months, if not a year.  Perhaps TMBG was the first to offer an
album via the internet without an accompnaying CD, but the question
was never meant to identify the first digital only album sold, just
the first abum.

This is what I know at the present time : when Emusic launched, they
had the first FB & The C's album, as well as a couple of local
California bands.   My guess is that the Frank Black album sold first
and thus can be considered the first album to be sold over the net. 
Anyway, it seems that we are in agreement that Emusic was the first to
offer albums for sale over the net.

As for press releases and input from Emusic (then Goodnoise), I have
the following:

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- August 26, 1998- Frank Black continues to break
new ground with his music, and now in the way music is delivered.
Today, Frank Black furthered his reputation as an innovator by
becoming one of the first established artists to release a new album
on the Internet. The highly-anticipated new album, "Frank Black and
the Catholics," was released today by GoodNoise Corporation (NASD OTC:
GDNO), The Internet Record Company, and is available for fans to
sample, purchase and download at www.goodnoise.com. Physical CDs of
"Frank Black and the Catholics" can be ordered from GoodNoise and will
be available at major retail stores beginning September 8 from spinART
Records.

The key phrase here is "one of the first."   Still to be answered :
Who was the first?  The ironic thing here is that Emusic doesn't have
the answer.  Seems all the original players are gone and since selling
out to Universal, they may just have abandoned their old records,
though that seems unlikely inasmuch as they must all be somewhere on
someone's hard drive.
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 22 Jun 2003 03:43 PDT
 
Hi Dasein.

OK, you were right about the artist and about the album, certainly as
far as EMusic goes. I'm not sure if I've found the same press release
but there's certainly more text at this location:

Goodnoise Press Releases (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
http://web.archive.org/web/19990209014430/www.goodnoise.com/about/pr/pr11.html

This explains that Frank Black's 'Frank Black and the Catholics' was
released online through Goodnoise on 26th August, 1998. However it
does carry the same caveat as your information: while it was the first
Goodnoise (or EMusic) album release, Frank Black was just 'one of the
first established artists to release a new album on the Internet'.

It's possible that Goodnoise were being extra careful when they made
this statement. While they may have thought it was the first, to the
best of their knowledge, to make a big claim could have backfired if
it later proved to be incorrect.

Frank Black was also the first person to have individual tracks
available for download through Goodnoise, slightly earlier on 30th
July, 1998.

Goodnoise Press Releases (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
http://web.archive.org/web/19990209010943/www.goodnoise.com/about/pr/pr10.html

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 23 Jun 2003 03:26 PDT
 
Hello Poe:
Good job digging up those other old press releases.  My feeling is
that we may have come to the end of the road as far as this avenue of
search is concerned.  We've established that, if he wasn't the first,
Frank Black was at least amongst the first wave of artists to employ
the net in order to distribute his music.  I think any further
information we may dig up will be the result of anecdotal accounts.
You've done more than I could have asked for, but let me ask one final
thing: if, anytime in the future, you run across info that will
definitively answer my original question, I would appreciate hearing
about it, presuming this thread is left open for some time.  Thanks
for all your work...
dasein
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 23 Jun 2003 07:31 PDT
 
Dasein,

Further to all the above, I've now located an album released for
download earlier still, though not in the mp3 format.

Liquid Audio made 'Dig Your Own Hole', an album by The Chemical
Brothers available for download on 7th April, 1997. This predated the
Virgin Records CD release by one day.

Liquid Audio
http://www.liquidaudio.com/company/press/1997/archive/chempr.asp

The same press release suggests that at this time, Liquid Audio were
the only internet company seriously addressing issues of downloadable
online music.

Certainly other internet companies were dealing with online music
before this time, such as RealNetworks, but these may have exclusively
dealt with streaming music rather than downloads.

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 23 Jun 2003 08:06 PDT
 
poe:

i'm not convinced that Liquid Ausio is offering downloading.  Sounds
to me like it's streaming, hence...  "Music fans can listen to the
complete album using the Liquid MusicPlayer, available free-of-charge,
from the Liquid Audio Home page at www.liquidaudio.com."   They go on
later in the press release to talk about their technology, which will
allow for downloads, but my feeling is that this Chemical Brothers
album was not downloadable at the time.  Funny that they're using
"enhanced Dolby Digital" technology (isn't that what Apple is now
using?).  And funny that Emusic first sold singles for 99 cents and
later switched to the subsription model only to see Apple launch a
wildly successful site selling singles for 99 cents.  Guess it's all
in the timing, but this is all another subject.  Thanks...
dasein
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 23 Jun 2003 09:13 PDT
 
Dasein,

I do believe that Liquid Audio was offering downloads rather than
streams but this would obviously need clarification. Certainly Liquid
Audio have offered downloads as a former colleague of mine downloaded
a lot of stuff from them.

The press release that I linked to proudly advertises that 'Liquid
Audio's technology allows consumers to preview and purchase CD-quality
music over the Internet, while ensuring copyright protection and
tracking royalties.' This would suggest downloads.

I think that the proprietary Liquid Player was mentioned because
Liquid Audio has (or at least had) its own proprietary format that
required its own player to work, just as you needed RealPlayer to play
.ra files.

My hesitation with this Chemical Brothers release is that I'm not yet
convinced that it was a commercial download. I have a feeling that it
was made available free but only for the day before the official CD
launch.

Back on the EMusic front, I've just heard back from Steve at EMusic
who confirms 'Frank Black and the Catholics' with the following mail:

---

Hello Hal,

This was the one. To my knowledge, EMusic (at the time GoodNoise) was
the first site to sell MP3s from an established artist in July 1998.
That seems like a very long time ago.

http://www.emusic.com/cd/10588/10588169.html

To be even more specific, we posted a couple of tracks before the
album
was available. "All My Ghosts" was the first track available. It was a
free download.

It was followed by "King and Queen of Siam" for $.99. The album was 
made available shortly thereafter for $8.99.

Other early EMusic artists:

http://www.emusic.com/artist/10560/10560073.html
http://aasearch.emusic.com/aasearch?rtype=search_art&searchterm=Cosmic+Freeway&cid=emusic
http://www.emusic.com/cd/10588/10588723.html

The first label to distribute through EMusic was spinART:

http://www.emusic.com/label/89/89969.html

I hope this is helpful...

Steve

---

And, off subject, I think Apple's iTunes is now offering a major label
version of what EMusic started off with, but EMusic has matured to
something else entirely. People who listen to Blind Lemon Jefferson
want an album, but people who listen to Britney Spears only want to
hear the big single.

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 24 Jun 2003 13:36 PDT
 
Well, Mr Poe, you've just about got the answer.  Although there is
some question regarding Liquid Audio, it appears that Mr. Black led
the pack.  As for Apple, do they not make entire albums available or
is everything a la carte?  If it is indeed one song to go, then that
is really the only difference between Apple and what Emusic started
out as, (except that Apple, of course, had the cachet to attract the
majors).
dasein
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 24 Jun 2003 16:01 PDT
 
As far as EMusic goes, it's a definite. The Steve that I've been
corresponding with is the General Manager at EMusic. He was around in
the GoodNoise days and remembers them well.

The only question left is whether anyone else beat GoodNoise to the
punch. I have mailed LiquidAudio but have had no reply as yet.

I do believe, though, that LiquidAudio is the only major possibility
as every other music provider around at the time only offered streams.
Other than that, you're at the level of independent bands selling from
their homepages and they are going to be almost impossible to track
down, especially as they may not even exist.

---

Apple does offer complete albums for download through their iTunes
service but they are a very minor part of what they offer. The
following article tries to upplay them but a quick analysis shows how
hollow their claims are.

PCWorld
http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,111304,00.asp

They've sold five million tracks, only half of which were as albums.
Using an average of ten tracks per album that means only 25,000 album
sales but 250,000 individual tracks. That's a ten to one bias which is
very telling. No wonder top artists are raising an issue about this.

My guess is that this bias is because there seems to be very little
album content worth having from major labels nowadays, as the industry
is all about MTV and manufactured hype. EMusic deals with independents
where albums are the thing.

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 25 Jun 2003 08:59 PDT
 
poe:  Thanks yet again...  you've spent a lot of time on this, far
more than my $5 offer warrants.  Anyway, if the Steve you spoke to at
Emusic has a last name that begins with "G," then you got the right
man.  He's been around forever.  As for Liquid Audio, I'm dubious, but
we'll see.
As for Apple, while I can understand your attitude toward their model,
they are at least bringing the majors to the table.  The majors have
been crying and bitchin' about downloading since day one and have only
offered  lame alternatives.  As for the 'top artists' raising
questions about singles being sold instead of full albums, they're the
last ones that should be complaining.  Any money they make from Apple
is found loot. Any 'top artist' is going to recoup and then some on
physical sales alone.  And those people who buy just one or two songs
from a 'top artist's' album probably wouldn't have bought the entire
thing anyway.  It's all gravy to them.  Notwithstanding Apple's
inherent fascism, what they are doing with iTunes is a boost to all
artists.  It's certainly a step beyond Napster or Kazaa or Lime Wire. 
All artists, both 'top' dog and under dog will benefit not only from
extra income (including publishing), but in getting the public
acclimated to downloading what they want, when they want and happily
paying for it.  As Martha would say, "It's a good thing."   (by the
way, I don't buy the view that because an album comes out on a major
label, there is nothing to listen to outside of a couple of singles. 
There are scores of examples of great albums coming out on the majors.
 Conversely, because an album comes out on an indie doesn't give it
instant credibility either.  Sometimes the majors release a great
album in spite of themselves.  And indies can release some real
stinkers.  dasein
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 25 Jun 2003 09:43 PDT
 
Dasein,

It's been a fascinating question to research. Five bucks
notwithstanding, I've learned a lot more about a subject that has been
dear to me for many years and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

Yes, that's the Steve.

I'm still waiting for a reply from Liquid Audio, and I have major
doubts about whether their downloads were commercial that far back,
but I do see them as the only real possibility of beating Frank Black.
Once I hear back from them, whichever way it goes, should I submit
what I've found as an official answer?

As far as Apple goes, inherent fascism is a good description, though I
agree that iTunes can pretty much only do a lot of good to the whole
industry. It's wonderful that major label artists 'that everyone's
heard of' now have material legally available for download. Of course,
there are still massive restrictions, not just with DRM but with
availability. I live in England which makes me ineligible to even sign
up for any of the legal major label download sites. I'm even
restricted from downloading product from some labels at EMusic. And
that would still apply even if I had a Mac. There's a long way still
to go.

I do admit to exaggerating a little with my single/album comments but
only a little. Absolutely, there are album artists on majors and
terrible artists on indies. However, digital downloads are freeing
artists from the confines of a 74 minute CD and that's going to change
the face of music as much as the invention of the long player did.

As a generality, I think the major labels will gradually stop
releasing albums entirely, to focus instead on easily marketable
singles from manufactured cookie cutter product. They will flood the
market with a particular song via ClearChannel radio, music magazines
or tv shows that are all owned by the same parent company. They'll
sell the song for digital download with DRM to the nth. And most songs
will become interchangeable.

Listen to some of my favourite artists from the days before the LP was
invented, like Billie Holiday or Django Reinhardt. All their songs
were designed for a radio audience and thus sounded relatively
similar. That's what we're going back to, with the iTunes model.

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 26 Jun 2003 03:37 PDT
 
poe:  Oops, seems my $5 offer is worth even less, maybe somewhere
around 3 or so?  Enough for 'chips' and a beer?   As for what you
submit as the 'official answer,' I have to admit (if it hasn't been
plain enough) that I came into this hoping to find that Frank Black
was the first to have an album commercially downloaded.  But, the
answer you should submit should, of course, be the one which you feel
is correct.
I'm curious about a couple of things:  Why in England are you
ineligible to sign up to web sites that allow you to download (or is
that just the major labels and Emusic, as you indicate?).  And if the
labels (or some entity) can restrict an entire country, then why isn't
this method being employed around the world by the labels; after all,
are they not desperate to find a way to stop downloading altogether?
I agree with you that the majors will now concentrate their efforts on
singles and market them like hamburgers with tie-ins to anything and
everything that will generate income.  Commercials for MacDonalds or
Pepsi will be indistinguishable from the latest hit on Radio 1.  That
said, the interchangeability which you refer to has been endemic for
years.  In the late 50's thru early 60's (pre-Beatles), I defy anyone
to distinguish between the latest from Frankie Avalon and the army of
white bread clones with wavy hair and large white teeth who wouldn't
know a beat if they tripped over one.
I have to say though, I don't get your references to Billie Holiday or
Reinhardt and I can't say that I hear their music as designed for
anything other than listeners.  I don't know how you can determine
that.
FInally, you make reference to DRM, what is that?  
dasein
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 26 Jun 2003 07:20 PDT
 
Hi Dasein,

Actually five bucks is worth more in England at the moment because of
the exchange rate. I get a great deal on currency travelling to the
States but Americans get a poor deal when they come this way.

If the Liquid Audio possibility doesn't pan out, as it may well do, it
looks like Frank Black was the first and I'll post that as the
official answer. If it does pan out then you can knock the year back
one.

The major labels don't restrict a particular country, they restrict
EVERY country outside of the US (and I think Canada, by extension). It
is all to do with the differences in licensing in different countries.
All the major label digital download solutions (Pressplay, MusicNet,
Rhapsody, iTunes) are only available to people in North America. Even
EMusic had to restrict certain labels (UMG Universal) to North
American downloads only.

I mentioned Billie Holiday and Django Reinhardt because they're
personal favourites of mine. Their music was absolutely designed for
listeners, but they recorded one song at a time for a radio audience.
Thus while the music in these cases was very high quality there was
very little to differentiate between one song and the next. All were
recorded to reflect what was required of the time and there was little
risktaking. When LPs became the norm, artists started to record an
album worth of material in one go. Suddenly it was possible to have
innovation and risktaking on an album while still going for the
commercial single.

DRM is Digital Rights Management, which is more restriction designed
by the major labels. EMusic works on the basis that once you've paid
your money and downloaded what you want, you can then play it on
whatever device you like, you can burn it to a CD, you can copy it
onto a portable mp3 player, in short there are no restrictions. EMusic
see it that you have purchased this music and can play it how you
like.

The major labels are trying to introduce an entirely different
business model, similar to that applied to software. They won't sell
you a digital download (or a VHS video or a DVD), rather they'll sell
you a license to use that product in the one specific way intended.
The DRM in their digital downloads means that it is impossible to burn
the track to CD or to copy it to another device; because you haven't
bought the track, you've only purchased a license to play it on the PC
you downloaded it to.

I've just taken a look through the Pressplay FAQ to see how things
have changed in the last year or so. It's still available only to US
residents (not even Canada). There look to be two different types of
downloads. The standard download will cease to play if you cancel your
subscription, can't be burned to CD, and can only be copied to one
other PC (which must be done by installing the Pressplay software on
both and using the built in synchronise feature). The Portable
Download costs a buck or so a time and cannot be synchronised, meaning
that if you copy it to another machine it becomes a standard download.
Portable Downloads can be burned to CD or copied to a portable device
and will continue to work even if you cancel your subscription, though
only once. If you want to burn the track to CD again, you'll have to
pay another dollar. All of these restrictions are controlled by DRM
within the files themselves.

Incidentally, this business model is the same that the MPAA are using
to fight decss, which is the software that gets round DVD encryption.
You don't buy a DVD, you buy a license to watch it on a standard
supported DVD player. If there doesn't happen to be a DVD player that
plays it on your PC running Linux, you can't write a DVD player that
can because that is illegal and will get you into court.

Again, the same applies to CDs as there are a few now being released
with DRM that prevents them being played through a PC CD-ROM drive.
You don't buy the CD, you buy a license to play that CD on standard
stereo equipment. Circumventing the DRM to play it on your PC is
illegal.

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 27 Jun 2003 03:55 PDT
 
Hello poe:
Well, we're off the subject now.... but, man, I wasn't aware that the
labels were able to weave code into files that restricted the use of
the files once the files were on the consumer's computer. I think what
the majors fail to see (blinded by greed) is that in making these
restrictions part and parcel of the music file, they are actually
encouraging people to abandon a legal way of getting music over the
net.  They are, in essence, creating a black market.  A similar thing
is happening over here with cigarettes.  Many of the states have such
high taxes on cigarettes, they are forcing people to go outside the
system to find a fair price for a pack of smokes.  And now the
congress is considering a law to outlaw sales of cigarettes over the
net.  Of course, these two instances aren't similar in nature, but
just in the way that they push people to find alternative sources;
that is, create a black market.  Admittedly, the music business'
solution is a reaction to a black market that became establshed prior
to their manipulations, but they're not doing anything to discourage
it with this DRM; (I have to say at this point that this concept of
licensing music files [or tapes, DVDs, etc.] instead of buying
outright the content on the disc is simply genius [I smell one of
those clever music lawyers] and bound to ricochet right back in the
face of the business).
iTunes, however, seems to have struck a balance.  I believe one is
allowed to burn copies of their files as well as transfer files to 3
computers.  That's not total freedom, but it's a step forward and does
limit the kind of file sharing that the majors claim is ruining their
business.   Now, as of yesterday, comes the RIAA threatening to sue
hundreds, if not thousands, of ordinary people, (and in some cases,
not so ordinary), for downloading music. This is a big deal.  Just hit
the news yesterday.  Nothing like alienating your customers.  Of
course, the music business (the RIAA) doesn't see it that way.  They
want to make 'examples' out of a few dozen (or hundred) people and get
the message out that if you dare to steal their property, it's going
to cost you big money.  It's called winning through intimidation.
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 27 Jun 2003 08:40 PDT
 
Dasein,

I still have no reply from Liquid Audio yet... I'll give them another
day or two.

And back off the subject... DRM isn't just possible, it's standard
practice.

I do believe that while the major labels (the RIAA) did not create
file sharing, they have absolutely made it the success that it is
today. If they don't adapt their business model to something a little
more realistic then they will cease to be within a few years. I don't
think sueing the general public is going to endear them to anyone.

I heard a telling statistic the other day, namely that there are more
people filesharing in America than voted in the last presidential
election. 100,000,000 people is not a small number!

iTunes is certainly the best system out there that covers major label
content, but it also has major limitations:

- It is not available outside North America.
- It is available for Apple Mac users only.
- It is only available for Mac OS X.
- It uses the AAC format rather than a widespread format such as mp3.
- It uses DRM.
- Most content is not available in complete albums.

On the other hand:

- Much major label music is available.
- Pricing is not outrageous.
- There are no pop-up ads.
- You can burn downloads to CD or DVD.
- The DRM is not horrifically limiting.
- It's definitely a start!

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 30 Jun 2003 04:27 PDT
 
Hopefully, Liquid Audio will get back soon and we can put this puppy
to bed.   As for Apple, I spoke with someone in the UK just last week
and they said that the iTunes store was, in fact, available in the UK,
so it's surprising to see you state otherwise.  And, of course, Apple
is only going to make it available to those with Apple computers;
after all, their primary business is to sell computers and
secondarily, to convince those of us married to OS 9 to get a divorce
and jump to OS X.  I can't blame them for that, though it would be a
sad world that converted to Apple just for the music.  One would think
that they could sell more and more computers without using this kind
of leverage.
As for not making entire albums available, it seems, from my
perspective, that outside the physical world of the CD, the album is
dying.  Maybe it will never go away, but as a viable format, its days
are numbered.  As someone who makes his living in the music business,
this is a hard pill to swallow, but its inevitability forces us all to
take our medicine and move on.
And the RIAA, they're just doing what every business trade association
does when they feel threatened, hire a gang of lawyers and attack;
(these guys, by the way, are light weights in this game, with the
likes of the NRA (National Rifle Association) currently the heavy
weight champs).  The RIAA's only reference point is the way it used to
be, not what is developing before their eyes.  Instead of looking at
what is going on around them and asking themselves "how can we take
advantage of this to make more money..." (on behalf of our members),
they're saying... "let's sue the bastards into submission."  After
all, if the guy next door or in the next town is suddenly either
arrested or fined a large sum of money, that will have a chilling
affect on all the local pirates and thieves.  This is their startegy,
not to knock them off one at a time, but to get the ring leaders and
hopefully the followers will stop following.  Set an example.  But, if
millions of years of evolution have taught anything, only those who
adapt will see more tomorrows. On the other hand, when there's a
fight, there is, of course, a winner and a loser and the RIAA has
chosen to fight and so faces another inevitability, extinction.
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: poe-ga on 01 Jul 2003 10:34 PDT
 
Dasein,

Google Answers policy prohibits researchers from contacting customers
under any circumstances. If you have any further questions, you could
always post them here or in a new question.

Meanwhile, I've still had no reply back from Liquid Audio. Is it time
to post what I've found as an official answer?

I'm glad that iTunes is now available in the UK. It's another positive
step forward. Next the Windows version...

Poe
Subject: Re: Internet Music Sales
From: dasein-ga on 01 Jul 2003 11:21 PDT
 
Well poe, I guess it's time to post the answer you feel is correct and
true.
As for Google's policy of no contact between researchers and
customers, on second thought, it makes a lot of sense.  I'm sure it's
the only way to protect everyone involved; after all, the net
certainly has its fair share of weirdos.  It's a shame though, as I
have a research project that needs to be done (in the UK) and thought
you might be the perfect person to do it.   I guess I could get it
done piecemeal through this forum, but it requires a more
comprehensive approach.  Besides, it also requires a bit of privacy
for my clients and this would be the last place to find that, n'est-ce
pas?  Thanks for your research, you went above and beyond the call of
duty (and way beyond $5).  Good luck and see you 'round the salt mines
--- dasein

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